Accuracy in Media

In a new piece, Vice advocates violence as a solution to climate change. Not just a bit of pushing and jostling at a demonstration, but full-on physical attacks on the nation’s infrastructure. For a media outlet with the reach of Vice Media, this is an appalling call to terrorism.

That there are those who consider violence a solution we all understand. But while they can exercise their free speech – when they’re not actively crossing the line into outright illegality – the amplification from a major media outlet is appalling. Especially as it’s not simply reporting on the claims, it’s the agreement with them.

Vice is advocating full-on violence. The background argument is that climate change will do damage to some to all of us. The system that allows that damage is an imposition upon us and so we have the right to fight back. To argue against climate change, of course, that right exists. To agitate to change policy, sure. But advocating eco-terrorism is a step much too far.

They do also advocate that, this is not an exaggeration:

“Malm is right. Shunning all violent acts will only prolong the worst. No new fossil fuel infrastructure can be created, and we need, as a society, to dismantle what we already have. Whether to target that infrastructure for destruction is an individual choice, and one that can only be made at a person-by-person level. Even when destroying things works, the risk for Indigenous people is often too great to do this, and that’s because of increased criminalization of protests. But in order to have the maximum impact, both nationally and internationally, protesters who are able need to consider property destruction as a tactic. In order to rebuild, some destruction of the old normal is necessary.”

This is not some lonely voice in the wilderness: Vice’s YouTube channel has 7.4 million subscribers. The website gains some 4 million visitors a month. The magazine goes out to 900,000 subscribers; the TV channel arrives in over 60 million households.

This is that call for physical violence, for the destruction of property, as a tactic against climate change. It is the advocacy of terrorism. That a major media outlet would propose this is a gross dereliction of duty. Even, in certain jurisdictions at least, an illegal call to perform illegal acts.


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